Happy Tenth Anniversary

Today is our tenth anniversary.

No, not our wedding anniversary.  On that Woody and I are closing in on 18 years this October.

Today, July 19, we’re celebrating ten years in our little stone house here in Vermont’s Green Mountains.

 

photo credit: Dave Ackerman

 

As it falls on my traditional posting day, I thought I’d write about this house we’ve lived in for ten years and see what develops.

Ready?

For some bizarre reason, I tend to recall dates with ease.

March 8, 1994  I packed up my little white Subaru, the one with the putt-putt motor, and headed 600 miles east to Philadelphia and a new life.  July 26, 1996  I moved out of my apartment in a former West Philly broom factory and into the first home I could buy “all by myself.”

photo credit: Nancy Drye

November 1, 2000  Woody and I closed on the Chincoteague house that I’ve written so much about (Here and Here and Here and Here). And on July 19, 2007 at a little past 10 o’clock in the morning, Woody and I sat in a Montpelier law office and closed on our (assumedly) last home.

 

photo credit: Dave Ackerman

 

Its roots are shallow; they’ll grow deeper in time, just like the maple trees out front have–the ones that must come down before their leaves block our solar panels. But its roots are wide. They reach out to include good neighbors, a fine community, important friends,

and a renewed sense of purpose in living here.

When we lived in Philly, Woody and I created and ran the non-profit Birch Tree Foundation, under which we ran our workshops and retreats for people who stutter and those who treat them. Our ultimate goal then was to have a retreat center to which the people we served could come and “just be.”  It would be in the country, quiet and beautiful; and it’d be filled with birch trees, of course.

We dissolved the foundation when we joined the Peace Corps. And we no longer work with people who stutter. But we now find ourselves with 30 acres of quiet, beautiful countryside, filled with aspens, fir, and maple trees, and birch.

And the importance of “just being” has stayed with me.

We are, after all, human beings, I like to say, not human doings.

Soon, our home will join the ranks of AirBnB, HomeAway, and Tripping as a place for people to “just be.”  I hope you’ll consider a stay with us, either in our upstairs guest room or here, in our new addition, The Yurt:

The yurt, off in the distance.

Details are still being worked out and we hope all will be in place for a spring 2018 opening.  But it feels good to be able to share this land we both fell so quickly in love with eleven years ago.  Who knows, maybe there’ll be opportunity for an occasional writer’s retreat. Or a reunion of our former stuttering clients. Now, that would be a true celebration.

This new endeavor will not replace the writing, farming, singing life we currently have.  Woody still teaches Intro to Speech Pathology (and a phonetics class too) online and is about to come out with the third in his Charles and Louise trilogy; I’ve been taking a crack at writing fiction and my next memoir should be ready for beta readers in about eighteen months.  We still raise chickens, though I miss my ducks, and we sing as often as we can. And, we still strive to be good stewards of this land that once upon a time reached out and took hold of us and wouldn’t let go.

How about you? Are your roots leading you toward your purpose? 

[NOTE: We’ll be spending Wednesday traveling across the state with Sasha for another surgical consult. More on that next week, maybe from Sasha herself. ]

 

25 Responses

  1. Kathleen Pooler
    | Reply

    Janet,
    Your place is beautiful. You have written a lovely tribute to “finding a home” and how it nourishes your dreams. Love the photos. I can relate to your love of the land and enjoyed hearing about all your ambitious adventures. I’m sure there will be lots of fodder for story with the Yurts! Thanks for sharing.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thank you Kathy. I know you appreciate how the land can replenish our souls.

  2. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    Lovely post, Janet. Now I know the origin of the tag “Birch Tree Books” in your mailing address. I think congratulations are in order for two reasons: Your 10th anniversary at this charming house and acreage and on your new AirBnB enterprise. As it happens, we used that service to book reservations in British Columbia next week where we will celebrate our 50th anniversary.

    As it happens, July 19 is also a red-letter day for us too: the birth of our one and only grand-daughter Jenna twelve years ago. Happy- Happy all around!
    Marian Beaman recently posted…Indigo and Other Colors: Sarah and Kelly Work their MagicMy Profile

  3. Janet Givens
    | Reply

    Hi Marian.

    Did you know I chose Birch Tree Books sitting in Chincoteague during our first retreat? Shirley had prodded me and out came Birch Tree Books. Some day I’ll write about my affection for the Birch Tree.

    Happy Birthday to Jenna. Now you know where we were when you celebrated her second birthday.

    Happy Trails as you head into Canada.

  4. Merril Smith
    | Reply

    Congratulations on your tenth anniversary and new enterprise, Janet!
    I love the photo with the field of wildflowers–so beautiful. It makes my soul sing–perhaps joining you and Woody in a little trio. 🙂

    That’s funny how you remember dates, and I do not. I remember around when we things happened, like we moved into our house close to Halloween, and I was five months pregnant with our older daughter.

    I hope all goes well with Sasha. Poor puppy!
    Merril Smith recently posted…UnsettledMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Merril, I loved that photo too, for the same reasons. My son has a very good eye.

      Before the Russians took over Kazakhstan (early 19th c) they had no dates. In fact, those who grew up in some villages carry on that tradition. So, you have folks (the older ones) who might be born on “the fourth full moon 60 winters ago.” You’d fit right in.

      Thanks for stopping by. Sasha thanks you too.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Happy Tenth AnniversaryMy Profile

  5. Pamela
    | Reply

    Oh, how lovely. And I’m enchanted with the idea of a writer’s retreat! How long a drive is your place from Boston? I grew up in southern NJ, so ‘my city’ in my youth was “Philly.” I just read the book Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigliani, set in Philadelphia in the 1950s – delightful read – I think you’d enjoy it.
    Back to your beautiful land and home in Vermont. Isn’t it glorious, how each place we land brings us even closer to our true “being”?
    Pamela recently posted…The Hand JiveMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Pam. I grew up in northern New Jersey. Small world, isn’t it. I traveled often to New Lisbon, though, to visit an uncle. New York City was my backyard and my friends and I often hopped the nearby bus and into Port Authority to spend the day.

      I love how you said, “each place we land brings us closer …” It helps me to remember that those earlier homes, and lives, were also important in their time.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Susan Jackson
    | Reply

    Wow, what a fantastic life you lead—can’t wait till you have your Yurt up and running as I want to vist that part of Vermont!

  7. Nancy Buck
    | Reply

    Oh my, what a lovely homage to your charming home and haven. You live a really fascinating life, and I’m glad you have the gift of being able to share it with us through your writing. BTW, your Philly nest looked equally charming as your current abode as well as your beach house. It must be fun to have enjoyed the differences in each place.
    Hoping Sasha will be ok and enjoying her own doggy paradise again soon.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Nancy. Oh yes, that Philly house was a real find and I really loved living there. I wrote in my memoir how I had easily envisioned me old and doddering in that house. But there’s that saying, “Man plans; God laughs.” I try not to get too attached to things, though I’m not always so successful.

      I’ve sent Sasha off to work on her first draft of next week’s post. She’ll be giving everyone an update on what we learned today. Don’t want to steal her thunder.

      Thanks for checking in.

  8. Laurie Buchanan
    | Reply

    Janet — Happy ten year anniversary! I resonate with what you wrote, “And the importance of “just being” has stayed with me.” And in the spring of 2018, you’re going to make that offering available to others. My hat is off to you and Woody!
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted…Amber Waves of GrainMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thank you, Laurie. That means a lot. Fingers crossed.

  9. Joan Z. Rough
    | Reply

    Wow, Janet. How exciting! What was that about a possible writer’s retreat?
    Joan Z. Rough recently posted…What? Me Retired?My Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      I’m trying not to get too attached to any one scenario, Joan, but I’m definitely open to all ideas. We could shoot for a reunion.

  10. Tim Fearnside
    | Reply

    Beautiful property, Janet :). Like Merrill, that photo of the house with all the wildflowers really grabbed me. ‘Would love to make it out there someday. The yurt and property look quite inviting. ‘Was only in Vermont once, and really, was just passing through on the way to Portsmouth, en route to Maine. But the beauty of the place was enough to entice me to apply to UV law school, which I ultimately got accepted to, but too late in the game. Who knows what my life would look like today if they’d notified me sooner. Fwiw, Boise does very much feel like home to me now, and it would take a lot to “uproot” me at this point. Good luck on your new endeavor! – T
    Tim Fearnside recently posted…70 from the ’70’sMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      VLS’s loss, Boise’s gain for sure. In fact wasn’t Boise recently mentioned in one of those “Best Towns to Live/Retire/Grow Old In” ?? Thanks for stopping by. We missed you last week.

      • Tim Fearnside
        | Reply

        Yes, Boise’s been on many of those lists in recent years. It’s a bit of a paradox — Boiseans love to brag on their city, yet, the more we’re “discovered,” the more we risk losing some of what makes this place special. I personally find my language deteriorating significantly as I drive through the non-stop construction downtown and near-abouts, not to mention the dearth of parking. I know that’s more than a bit curmudgeonly, but I can’t seem to help myself. Spoiled, I guess. Sorry I missed your blog last week. Astoundingly, I didn’t even realize it, as I don’t recall even seeing the e-mail notice. Life has been heating up again as of late, it seems. I’ll be sure to check it out. Best, T
        Tim Fearnside recently posted…70 from the ’70’sMy Profile

  11. Cathy M. Monaghan
    | Reply

    Congratulations on your Decade Anniversary! I hope you and Woody had a decadent celebration. <>
    I have never lived long enough in one place to set roots, so you are blessed. I love your lovely photos and blogs. ♥

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thank you Cathy. Decadent celebration! I love it. Actually, I celebrated that evening by dropping woody off for one of his rehearsals, then going down the street to buy an ancient claw foot tub that we’ll install in the upstairs lavatory. After quite a bit of work. That was exciting. But alas, not terribly decadent.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Happy Tenth AnniversaryMy Profile

  12. The Recipe Hunter
    | Reply

    Janet, I Love your place – WOW, wish I could come and visit and stay over with you. When we do travel, we prefer to stay at B&B vs a hotel and this does look very inviting.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks so much, Esme. I’m looking forward to learning some new recipes from your blog as well.

  13. Cherie
    | Reply

    Such a beautiful life and home!! I have only been to Vermont once, for a friend’s wedding. It was lovely and have often wanted to visit again.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thank you Cherie. I appreciate your visiting today. Are you anywhere near Stuttgart? I lived for a few weeks in Poppenweiler, a small village nearby — many years ago.

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